Should Your Child Attend The Funeral?

By: Myles O'Roirdan
Friday, July 22, 2016

It is common to avoid bringing children to a funeral because it is a difficult time in our lives and we believe we are protecting children by going without them. We feel as if we are sparing them the heartache and confusion of the events taking place. Every child is different and handles their emotions in a unique way. It is important to realize that children mourn the death of a loved one as well, only they don’t fully understand what death is.

It is important to consider what is best for the child and for your family. Every situation is different and this is a decision you shouldn’t make lightly. As a parent, you should explain the funeral process to your child and allow them to make a decision as to whether they want to attend or not. Most children don’t regret going to a funeral, instead, they may be hurt that they weren’t able to be there. Having a discussion to prepare them for what will happen can make it easier for them to decide.

 

Preparing them to make a decision

What is a funeral? - The first step is to explain exactly what a funeral is to your child. They need to know that a funeral is a time and place in which we mourn the death of a loved one and begin the grieving process. Explain to them that a funeral is where we say our final goodbyes and an important part of accepting that your loved one is gone.  You may want to include where and when the funeral will be held so they feel included.

The concept of death:  - Most children don’t realize that the death of a loved one means they will never see them again. It is common that children think because the family is gathering together that this is a happy time and they may behave accordingly. This is why it is important to be open and show your emotions to your children, rather than hiding them to protect your child. They feel and pick up on what is going on around them. Explaining that death means the body does not work anymore, in which it does not breathe like we do, feel pain, eat food or feel happiness, can give the child more clarity.

Who is the funeral for and who will be there? – Your child may not realize that their loved one is gone, or they may have an idea but don’t know how to react. Although, children mourn the death of a loved just as adults do and they feel pain and sadness at this time. Share stories and talk about the deceased and allow your child to begin their own grieving process. Explain to them that family and friends will be there to share stories and say their goodbyes as well.

Once you have had a discussion about the experience they will encounter, give your child some time to think and allow them to make a decision. If your child decides to go to the funeral, it is important to discuss funeral etiquette so they have an idea of how to behave during the service. If they decide against going to the funeral, ensure them there are other ways in which they can mourn, including:

  • Attending the memorial service or celebration of life
  • Being part of the internment or ash scattering
  • Taking part in a private service with immediate family

If you have any other questions you would like to talk about, please feel free to contact, Wagg Funeral Homes, here. 

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